A Japanese wedding tradition stemming from the Edo period, san san kudo translates into “three three nine times.” In this tradition, three wedding cups, called sakazuki, are presented in three different sizes: small, medium, and large, as they are typically staked on top of one another. These shallow cups are then filled with sake and couples will drink from each three times, for a total of nine total sips. The numbers three and nine are both thought to bring good luck.
This ritual dates back to a time when sharing sake created a formal bond as strongly as a handshake did in Victorian times. The couple takes three sips each from the cups. Then their parents also take sips (for a total of nine sips), cementing the bond between the families.
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