Love Padlocks: Locks Declaring Eternal Love in Cities Worldwide- Coming to a bridge, wall, or fence near you!
Here are my findings- I hope you find them as interesting as I did! (Note: the hyperlinks in my text are to sources I consulted, so if you want to go to the original source, click through)
What are love padlocks?
At a couple of locations in Asia, love padlocks are affixed to high bridges or towers, and the keys are thrown to the depths below to symbolize commitment.
In some specific cases (as in Hungary, according to Wikipedia), the locks started out in one location, and once that location was overstuffed, the locks began to spread to additional fences, bridges, and statues. In some cases, when locks are not available, bag tags have been used instead.
Most commonly, the couples installing love padlocks on fences and bridges are young and simply dating, but in some areas newlyweds are the main culprits!
Love padlocks can be found throughout Europe, as well as in the UK, China (including Taiwan), Japan, Uruguay, South Korea, and Guam. Love padlocks have sprung up in the U.S. mainland (in Lovelock, Nevada to be specific), however the tradition seems to be a bit contrived in this place- more of a tourist promotion than anything else.
Where did the tradition come from?
According to several websites, love padlocks first emerged in Hungary in the 1980s. This is the only date mentioned with regard to the practice, so we can only be certain (and somewhat dubiously at that) that love padlocks have been around for at least 30 years.
Perhaps the practice emerged in several places over a long period of time. There is no solid conclusion out there that I can find. At any rate, the tradition has proved to be quite popular, and has spread throughout the world.
That said, it seems as though many love padlock ‘outbreaks’ are somewhat recent. For example, the locks found their way to Cologne, Germany only in 2008, and cropped up in Italy around 2006 (apparently as a result of the practice being publicized in two novels and a movie). Perhaps the padlocks are turning into a trend!
Love Padlocks and Controversy
Because love padlocks have become so popular, however, it is difficult to stop couples from setting them up. As a result, many cities and some towns have set up dedicated fences and other structures where it is legal to affix love padlocks. These efforts may be moderately helpful with preventing illegal installations, but improvised locks are still to be found everywhere!