Sometimes the most beautiful traditions come from the darkest of places. Such is the case with the romance-filled custom of love locks…a custom which was born more than a century ago. The story begins in the country of Serbia, just before the start of the Second World War. A local man named Relja could not help but fall madly in love with the beautiful and enchanting Nada. They promised their love to one another, swearing that nothing could break their bond. But when the unforeseeable happened and war broke out, Relja left to join the army, leaving Nada to fight abroad. Separated by miles and time, and surrounded by temptation in a foreign country, Relja took another lover. When Nada discovered the betrayal, her heart shattered into pieces. The devastation and sorrow eventually led to her death.
But from this tragic ending came a light-filled beginning, a tradition in which couples began to write both of their names on a padlock, affixing them to the bridge where Nada and Relja used to meet. The strength of the padlock symbolizes the couple’s commitment, love, and fidelity- a lock to ensure that the bond could not break like the war-torn lovers. Over time this tradition spread all over the world, traveling from Serbia across continents and oceans, all the way to the Midwest of America.
Tradition is alive in this beautiful city of De Pere, Wisconsin, in a place called Vayageur Park. As my husband and I start to take a walk by the river, meandering along the pathways and over a bridge, we are filled with a sense of being in another land, in another time. As we walk our cares and stresses melt away, our senses filled with only the calmness of the air, the tranquility of the water, and the beauty of the people passing by.
We knew we had to to add our love to the many padlocks hanging on the love lock fence, and decided to do a photoshoot while doing so that we could record our participation in the timeless tradition.
If you happen to visit this area, stop by- And bring your own padlock! Or maybe you can make it your tradition to visit this bridge each year on your anniversary. Consider creating your own special version to”pledge your love,” and then toss the key into the river.
Love! It’s is a mysterious thing but endlessly beautiful. The padlock is a symbol of a light that exists within us, something we carry with us wherever we go. So be the light that endures, even in the darkest of times. Xoxo
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