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Under the tree of love

An old oak in Schleswig-Holstein has an unusual gift, reports Susanne Pleines.

Speed-dating on the Internet? Out! Friends forever on Facebook? So passé! If you want to find love, get a tree.

But not just any old tree. It seems there is no better marriage broker than the Bräutigamseiche in the Dodauer Forst near Eutin. For more than a century, people have been posting their love letters to the majestic oak tree and waiting with bated breath for a reply.

Legend has it that the tree is more than 600 years old and has heard many a love-sick sigh in its time. At the end of the 19th century, a certain Fräulein Ohrt (daughter of the head forester) and a chocolate manufacturer kept their clandestine love affair alive by posting each other secret messages in the tree until her mean father relented and gave them their blessing. Their happy union was celebrated under the tree on 2nd  June 1891.

Today, around 40 letters per week arrive from all over the world and the postman deposits them in a large knothole at the top of a ladder. There is no postal secrecy around the tree. Anyone can climb up, open and read any letter and – if he or she likes the content – take it home to write a reply. What a romantic way to find your partner! Hundreds of relationships and at least four marriages have blossomed out of the live letterbox, two of which celebrated their silver anniversary under the tree. Even the postman found the woman of his dreams via the old oak:  she watched a TV interview with him, fell madly in love and wrote a letter to the tree.

The Bräutigamseiche is easily accessible from the B76 between Eutin and Plön and a great meeting point and picnic spot for walkers, cyclists, tourists and families alike.

And the lonely old oak itself? Well, it isn’t quite as lonesome as you may think because it is now married to the second German tree with a postal address, the Himmelgeister Kastanie, an old chestnut tree in a bend of the Rhine south of Düsseldorf. Ahhh!


You too can write your personal love request to the tree, just post it to Bräutigamseiche, Dodauer Forst, D-23701 Eutin. 


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