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Before Tinder, a Tree

Dec 16, 2014 | 440 videos
Video by Claudia Bracholdt

In June 1891, a young couple married under an oak tree in Germany's Dodauer Forst. The newlyweds and the tree shared an undeniably romantic bond; during their courtship, they exchanged secret letters by dropping them into a knothole on the tree's trunk. Their story spread by word of mouth, and within decades, others began sending letters too. In 1927, Germany assigned the tree its own postal code. The legend of the "Bridegroom's Oak" was born. 

Filmmaker Claudia Bracholdt's utterly charming documentary considers the role of Bridegroom's Oak as both fairy tale and matchmaker. She interviews Karl Heinz Martens, a retired postal worker who delivered mail to the tree for more than 20 years. ("Usually, you have five to six letters a day," he says. "But when the media reported on it, you easily had 40 to 50.") He even has a love story of his own: he met his wife after she wrote him a letter—mailed to the Oak, of course—and he replied. They've been married ever since. "Paying 60 cents for a post stamp and having the chance to find a partner for life. Where do you get that?" he says. "Nowhere."

To see more of Bracholdt's work, follow her at @cbracholdt. Original music for this film was composed by Michael Boyman. "Dein ist mein ganzes Herz" was performed by Max Raabe & Palast Orchester.

Author: Chris Heller

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A curated showcase of short films selected by The Atlantic