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21 World War I Recruitment Posters From Around the Globe

All countries have their own style when it comes to military recruitment posters, and even within one country, the style will change drastically depending on the specific branch looking for volunteers. Here are some interesting examples of military recruitment posters from World War I.

England

This poster was designed to bring a sense of shame to those who weren’t fighting.

While every other poster I found was vertical, the decision to shape this one like an arm was pretty perfect considering the message.

While this would be a great way to recruit D&D fans these days, at the time the knight and dragon image was selected to remind viewers of the story of Sir Gawain St. George and the dragon.

Scotland & Ireland

While the United Kingdom may be united in title, the country is most certainly not all one culture, which is why the powers-that-be had to make posters oriented specifically towards Scotland and Ireland as well. This design by Lawson Wood is pretty subtle other than the fact that the soldier is wearing the Scottish military dress and the fact that the caption includes a bit of slang.

The Irish were even harder to recruit into the war given all the political turmoil going on in their own land at the time. In fact, while the World War was going on, there were rebellions breaking out throughout Ireland, and as soon as the major international war ended, the Irish War of Independence broke out. That’s why recruiters hoping to get Irishmen to enlist into the war couldn’t just ask them to support their king & country like they asked the Scottish. Asking for revenge for the German attack on the passenger ship was a good way to encourage the Irish to fight without asking them to fight for the kingdom.

Australia

This poster doesn't bother striking up national pride, guilt or benefits to potential troops; essentially, all it says is “We promised to help England -- can you help? No big deal if you can’t.”

Canada

One of the best ways to recruit people into a war if they don’t otherwise care about the cause is to show them what they could get out of it. This Canadian ad promises to help improve the skills of artisans and mechanics, thus, hopefully, ensuring them better employment after the war.

Germany

Wondering what the recruitment posters looked like on the other side of the battle lines? Well, they are strikingly darker. In fact, maybe it’s just because I can’t read German, but I think I’d be less likely to sign up after seeing a creepy, ghostly poster like this one, designed by Julius Ussy Engelhard.

This poster, created by Lucien Zabel, isn’t quite as horrifying as the other, but I still don’t think it would have me running to a recruitment office to sign up.

U.S.A.

While America’s recruitment efforts usually focus on specific branches, there are still a few designs just urging people to get out there and fight. This one is particularly powerful as it shows Uncle Sam standing over a seemingly violated Lady Liberty telling the viewer “It's up to you. Protect the nation's honor.”

Navy

It’s interesting to see the contrast of the frail, weeping Lady Liberty in that first U.S.A. poster up against Kenyon Cox’s image of a strong, powerful woman bearing a sword. She’s certainly more awe-inspiring like this, isn’t she?

There’s something incredibly familiar about this Navy recruitment poster. Is it possible that Dr. Strangelove borrowed the idea for their climax from this Richard Fayerweather Babcock image?

The pin-up girl poster was designed by Howard Chandler Christy.

To be fair, this poster, by James Henry Daugherty, was released just after the war, but it’s hard to leave out of this collection when it has such fantastic artwork and a classic message inspiring people to see the world by joining the Navy.

Marines

Of course, the Army isn’t the only branch that recruits soldiers by promising to show them the world. Here is the Marines' version of the same concept. Interestingly, this poster was released in 1917, so it was pretty darn unlikely that any of the recruits inspired by this artwork by James Montgomery Flagg actually saw any cheetahs, at least not until the war was officially over.

The Marines have always put bravery over all else, so while many people might be put off by the idea of being the first to fight, those aren’t the people this ad, by Sidney H. Riesenberg, was targeting anyway.

Army

The power of this poster, designed by I. B. Hazelton, is its simplicity. All you need to know is that men are needed for the Army and that you can help, beyond that, the wonderful artwork speaks for itself.

August William Hutaf’s design for the Tank Corps is truly fantastic. My only question: is the cat terrified because the Tank Corps roughed him up or is he angry because he is symbolizing the roughness of the Tank Corps?

Canada hoped to recruit artisans and mechanics, and the U.S. needed them as well. Only rather than going after people who already were familiar with the trade, this recruiting poster promised to train anyone interested to become a mechanic -- offering them a great opportunity to land a job in a booming industry when they returned home.

WWI was the first war to incorporate planes. In the U.S., soldiers involved in this division were part of Army’s Air Service, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force after the war ended. With posters featuring great artwork like this design by Charles Livingston Bull, and the opportunity to learn to be a pilot at the beginning of the aviation industry, it’s easy to imagine that the Air Service had a lot of recruits, even if it was incredibly dangerous.

National Guard

The National Guard was fairly new during WWI. In fact, over 40% of the U.S. soldiers in France during WWI were in the National Guard.

[All images courtesy of the Library of Congress. For more World War I history, start following Erik Sass' WWI Centennial series, covering the events leading up to the war exactly 100 years after they happened.]

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Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?
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Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.

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