I remember being pleasantly surprised the first time I saw padlocks decorated with brightly coloured ribbons adorning Pont de l’Archeveche in Paris. I thought, what a charming, romantic idea! Turned out that it was somewhat controversial too. Some time ago I was met again by the cheerful sight of love-locks on our very own doorstep.
In Paris, the love-lock bridge overlooks the Notre Dame and we haven’t done too badly in Malta either.
The bollards around the LOVE sign in Spinola Bay, St Julians are fittingly adorned with padlocks bearing couples’ initials. The love-locks are clamped shut and the keys tossed into the Mediterranean sea, as a statement of undying love between the couple. Add to that a romantic meal in the surrounding area and – in the warmer seasons – a ride on the sleek regatta-like boat or dghajsa tal-pass (complete with heart-shaped lit sign and emanating soft music) and you have the perfect postcard-love date.
Another padlock-love location in Malta that is gaining popularity is the railings near Tigne Point in Sliema, overlooking the atmospherically-lit Valletta bastions. Not bad at all!
This growing trend has had criticism levelled at it from more than one direction, however. Advocates of selfless love, famously popular with Parisians – not that Hollande’s latest capers haven’t raised eyebrows! – think that symbolising Love with a padlock is downright ludicrous as love is not a prison where two lovers are each other’s slaves, true love is giving the other the freedom to walk away.
A good argument in my opinion. However, everlasting or not, what’s wrong with capturing a phase (at the very least) of a relationship in this romantic way? The gesture lends itself to a ceremony of sorts that is both serious and whimsical, and that is still meaningful.
Other people disapprove of this trend for heritage or environmental reasons rather than ‘unromantic’ ones. The people in Town Halls around the world are concerned with the damage being done to fragile structures being worn down with the “cheap metal” from padlocks.
All in all I still think this is a romantic gesture everyone should try out at least once in a life-time. It can be fun, meaningful and the stuff memories are made of, adding that extra special something to a romantic date or holiday.
Read more tomorrow about how different locations around the world have dealt with this growing trend. Is there a love-lock bearing your name anywhere out there?