The Bridegroom’s Oak, a 500-year-old tree just outside of Eutin, in Germany, has its own postal address and actually receives around 40 letters every day. They are sent by love seekers from all around the world, in the hope that someone will read them and write back.
With so many dating apps and services available nowadays, sending letters to a tree in Germany hardly sounds like the most effective way to find love, but for true romantics, there’s really no comparison. There’s just something undeniably charming about sending a letter and allowing fate to work its magic, so the Bridegroom’s Oak remains very popular even in this digital age.
“There’s something so magical and romantic about it”, a 72-year-old postman delivering letters to the Bridegroom’s Oak, told BBC. “On the internet, facts and questions match people, but at the tree, it’s a beautiful coincidence – like fate.”
The famous oak has been growing outside of Eutin for an estimated 500 years, but it only became a facilitator of love around 100 years ago, when it found itself at the center of a now legendary love story. In 1890, a local girl named Minna fell in love with a young chocolate maker named Wilhelm, but her father, who opposed their relationship, forbade her from seeing the boy. Instead of giving up on each other, the two started exchanging love letters in secret, by leaving them in a knothole of the tree we now know as the Bridegroom’s Oak. After about one year, Minna’s father found out about their continued relationship, but instead of punnishing them, he gave them permission to marry. According to a local story, the two lovers wed on June 2, 1891, under the branches of the oak tree that helped keep their romance alive.
The couple’s story spread around Eutin and the surrounding area, and soon, people unable to find love the conventional way started writing romantic letters and leaving them in the tree’s knothole. By 1927, it was already known as Bräutigamseiche (German for ‘Bridegroom’s Oak’) and had become so popular that the Deutsche Post assigned it its own address and postal code, allowing people from all over Germany and even abroad to send in their letters.
Love seekers visiting the Bridegroom’s Oak need respect only one simple rule. They can check all the letters in its knothole, and take with them the one they wish to reply to, but they have to put the others back for other people to find.
“The tree receives about 1,000 letters a year,” a spokesman for Deutsche Post said. “Most come in the summertime. I suppose that’s when everyone wants to fall in love.”
Does writing to the Bridegroom’s Oak actually work? Well, the BBC reports that it has been responsible for at least 100 marriages, as well as many other romantic relationships, but if you’re still not convinced, just ask Karl Heinz Martens, the postman who has been delivering letters to the tree for the last 20 years.
Atlas Obscura contributor frauhuber writes that a few days after appearing on a German television program about the tree, martens received a personal letter from a woman in Hamburg, via the Bridegroom’s Oak. The two hit it off and have been happily married ever since.
So if online dating apps or agency aren’t romantic enough for you, maybe give the Bridegroom’s Oak a try. You never know…