"We’re jumping the gun just a little bit. The way I see it, we’re just extending the holiday spirit. We're stretching it out. But we do have to be careful that your kids don’t start thinking Hanukkah lasts 20 nights instead of eight. That will cause some problems," said Obama to laughter from the crowd.
Christmas also came early at the White House this year. Obama and the first family celebrated the annual National Christmas Tree lighting last week.
"This Hanukkah season we remember a story so powerful that we all know it by heart — even us gentiles. It’s a story of right over might, of faith over doubt," Obama said.
In his opening remarks, the president also welcomed Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
"We are thrilled to see her. She's one of my favorites … I've got a soft spot for Justice Ginsburg," he added.
Obama also used the occasion to reaffirm his administration's support for Israel.
"This is also a time to be grateful for our friendships, both with each other and between our nations. And that includes, of course, our unshakeable support and commitment to the security of the nation of Israel," Obama said.