Although technically not a commandment specified in the Torah, lighting candles to usher in the festivals was transformed into an obligation by the rabbis. Though this is a positive time-bound commandment, a set of obligations from which women are traditionally exempt, from early Rabbinic times the lighting of Sabbath and festival candles was considered one of three mitzvot (commandments) which women were obligated to perform, even if men are present.
Candles are lit to welcome all of the major Jewish holiday, including the three pilgrimage holidays - Passover, Shavu'ot, and Sukkot - as well as Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. If the holiay coincides with Shabbat, a few words in parentheses are added to the blessing over the candles.
For Yom Kippur, a separate blessing said:
For all the holidays, after the candles are lit the Shehecheyanu prayer is recited: