I Don’t Love “Love Locks”
I first became aware of the phenomenon of love locks during our trip to Paris in 4th grade (spring break 2013.) A “love lock” is any kind of padlock that two people write their names on. They lock the padlock to the bridge and throw the key into the river as a sign of their love’s permanence. Here is my brother and I on the Pont des Arts, a bridge with a ton of locks.
Love locks are actually not a new thing. Their tale dates back around 100 years to World War I Serbia. A school mistress named Nada form the town Vrnjačka Banja fell in love with an officer named Relja. After they got engaged, Relja went to war in Greece and fell in love with a local woman, breaking Relja’s and Nada’s engagement. Nada never recovered from her shock, and eventually died of heartbreak. To protect their loves from misfortune, the young women of Vrnjačka Banja wrote their and their lover’s names on a padlock and locked them to the bridge where Relja and Nada used to meet, tossing the keys of the locks into the river.
Later I started to see love locks other places and read about them in the newspaper. I realized that love locks were much wider spread than I had originally thought. I had seen locks in Seattle and Maine, but after some research I learned that the locks have become very popular in the past ten years and they are located on structures around the world from Uruguay to Iceland to Thailand.
You know, at first I thought they were kind of cool, but then I learned how people were putting so many locks on the Pont des Arts, and other bridges besides, that they were damaging the bridges structure. I also learned that when people throw the lock’s keys into the river, it’s bad for the river. Maybe love locks weren’t so cool after all.
Last week, in Venice, I noticed love locks on some of the bridges over the canals and I noticed a sign in a store window for a new campaign against love locks called “Unlock your Love.” The idea of the campaign is that putting locks on bridges is a bad idea and that there are other ways to show your love. Signs are in windows but also tied to bridges as a way to educate people who might put a lock on. I think this campaign is a great idea, because putting a padlock on a bridge is a terrible way of showing that you care about someone. As the “Unlock your Love” sign states, love doesn’t need your chains. I think that putting a lock on a structure is stupid because when you put heavy things on a bridge, building, etc, it will weigh the structure down. In fact, part of the Pont des Artes bridge railing has recently collapsed due to the number of padlocks on it. Love locks are also bad for the environment because when people put padlocks on bridges, they often throw the key to their lock into the river the bridge spans. This is bad for the river and all its inhabitants. Also, if the city (or whoever owns the structure) decides to remove the locks, it can be difficult because they rust and become hard to remove.
I will look for more locks on our trip, but I really hope I don’t see them!