U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, on Friday sent warm wishes to everyone celebrating Hanukkah around the world, saying the holiday is a time for people of all faiths to celebrate their common aspirations.

"As families, friends and neighbors gather together to kindle the lights, may Hanukkah's lessons inspire us all to give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, to find light in times of darkness, and to work together for a brighter, more hopeful tomorrow," Obama said in a written statement.

Hanukkah, also known as the festival of lights, begins at sundown on Friday.

The holiday commemorates the second-century B.C. rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean victory over an oppressive regime.

According to the Hanukkah story, when the Maccabees reclaimed the desecrated temple, there was only enough oil to last for one day, but it miraculously lasted eight days.

In his statement, Obama recalled the story of the Maccabees, saying, "The Hanukkah story of the Maccabees and the miracles they witnessed reminds us that faith and perseverance are powerful forces that can sustain us in difficult times and help us overcome even the greatest odds."