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Nisswa resident shares old German Easter tradition

Hank Mullen holds up a photo of himself from around 1949, when he lived in the Black Forest of Germany. The picture depicts him with a homemade Easter basket. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch1 / 2
Circa 1949, Hank Mullen poses with his homemade Easter Basket in the Black Forest of Germany. Mullen, now a Nisswa resident, said making baskets outside for the Easter Bunny to leave presents in was a German tradition. Click the image to view the entire photograph. Submitted Photo2 / 2

In the U.S., those who celebrate Easter generally do so by hiding eggs for kids to find or waiting for the Easter Bunny to fill their baskets with treats on Sunday morning.

But Nisswa resident Hank Mullen remembers the holiday a little differently when he was a child.

"You made a real basket outside," Mullen said of an old tradition he took part in as a boy in the Black Forest of Germany.

Mullen recalled the activity Monday, April 8, as he looked at a black and white photograph of a 5-year-old donning a suit while showing off a handmade Easter basket, or nest of sorts.

The child is Mullen and was taken around 1949 in southwest Germany.

"Over there, they would go out and build with sticks two or three nests hoping the Easter Bunny would come and leave presents," he said.

Mullen couldn't quite recall what sort of presents the Easter Bunny left.

"In 1949, four years after the war, not much," he said.

Aside from building the nests outside and waiting for them to be filled, Mullen doesn't remember much about German custom, and it wasn't something he carried with him after moving to the U.S. in 1951. But he felt the compulsion to share his photo with the Dispatch so others could discover a unique cultural tradition.

"I've shown this picture to a number of people over the years," he said. "And they go, 'What? Is that what they did?' So it's kind of a weird thing."

Theresa Bourke

I started at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and the Brainerd School District. I follow city and school board officials as they make important decisions for residents and students and decide how to spend taxpayer dollars. I look for feature story ideas among those I meet and enjoy, more than anything, helping individuals tell their stories and show what makes them unique.

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