The church is near, but the road is icy.
The bar is far, but we will walk carefully.

Is this really an original Russian proverb and how sounds the Russian original version? Are there corresponding sayings in other languages?

The English text was declared as a translation from a Russian proverb and shared here and on other websites.

There is a discussion that answers my questions not completely.

  • 3
    The universe of Dahl proverbs 95% of which nobody uses and nobody knows in modern Russia.
    – shabunc
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 10:09
  • 2
    @shabunc: Dahl's proverb collection is memepedia of its time, only without metadata ("recorded in village A from peasant B in the year C"). Dahl famously refused to gather detailed metadata for his dictionaries. And yes, some memes do get traction, some don't
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Aug 27, 2020 at 15:57

3 Answers 3


Хоть церковь и близко, да ходить склизко; а кабак далеконько, да хожу потихоньку.

The proverb is Russian and it is mentioned in the book by V. Dahl Russian Folk Proverbs (В. Даль. Пословицы русского народа). Thus the discussion (the last one) is correct.

The meaning is the following. Though the church is nearby, we don't often go there. And the tavern is far away, but we go there every day.
Пословица действительно русская, упомянута в книге В. Даля Пословицы русского народа.


Most modern Russians don't know this proverb from Dahl's book. Its shorter form "(хоть) церковь близко, да ходить склизко" is occasionally used. In this form it often means that the church is bad (e.g. priests are sinful or hypocritial etc.) Sometimes it means that people do not want to go to a church.

In other cases, it is presented as "Кабак далеко, да ходить легко, а церковь близко, да ходить склизко" or similar. This is how Pushkin wrote it in one of his papers. In this way, it means that vice is more attractive than virtue.


Personally, I have never heard this proverb in the Russian version.
But it is not difficult to make a translation:

Хоть церковь близка, но дорога к ней скована льдом.
А кабак далеко. Но мы осторожно пойдем.

  • 1
    Ага, ага: Через дорогу церковь - в двух шагах. | Но те шаги идешь как в кандалах. | Кабак же за пять миль, чрез бурелом и мрак, | но путь тот пролетишь и не заметишь как.
    – DK.
    Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 2:15
  • @DK., да, примерно так :) Commented Aug 28, 2020 at 2:48

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