The seder officially begins with the lighting the candles. In Jewish tradition, lighting candles and saying a blessing over them marks a time of transition, from the day that is ending to the one that is beginning, from ordinary time to this special time. One translation of Kadesh is “to transcend the mundane world”.

We light candles to represent unity with those loved ones who are no longer with us, and with their loved ones who came before them forming an unbroken chain of celebration that reaches back some 3000 years.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav, v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel Pesach.
Thank you God for giving us this night to celebrate by lighting the Passover candles.

As these candles brighten our Passover table, may good thoughts, good words, and good deeds brighten our days.

The First Cup:
[excerpt from American Jewish World Service]

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, borei peri hagafen.
Blessed be God, Ruler of the Universe, creater of the fruit of the vine. (drink)

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigi’anu lazman hazeh.
Thanks to God, who has kept us alive, raised us up and brought us to this moment.

haggadah Section: Kadesh
Source: American Jewish World Service; Chabad; various