According to one internet source, the name Kris Kringle (which is of course another name for Santa Claus) is derived from the German "Christkindl" or Christ child. I don't know if that's true (and I don't know a lick of German), but I can well believe it. The tradition in Hungary is that Christmas gifts are brought not by Santa Claus but by Baby Jesus. The only connection that Hungarians have with Saint Nicholas is on Saint Nicholas Day, which is December 6. On the evening of December 5th, children put out their shoes and wake up in the morning to find them filled with chocolate (okay, not like literally filled - more like little chocolate Santas placed in their shoes. It's not as icky as it sounds!).
So I can imagine that Kris Kringle, who brings the presents on Dec. 24th, is actually the Americanized adapatation of the Christ Child who does the same thing in the old country. Interestingly, according to Wikipedia the name Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas. It's like a contest for how many messed up pronounciations you can find at Christmas or something. Also according to Wiki, the celebration of the Christ child on Dec. 24th was a Protestant development introduced by Martin Luther to replace the Saint Nicholas day that was a Catholic festival. If that's true, I think it was a bad move in some respects. In Hungary the whole "Baby Jesus" thing becomes like Santa Claus when you grow up - you stop believing in him. Or you believe in the "idea" but not the reality. And of course Santa Claus is one of the prime comparisons that skeptics use to deny the existence of the supernatural or the truth of Christianity. It makes you wonder how many skeptics are just disillusioned former believers in Santa Claus, not wanting to get duped again. But that's another topic.
That's one reason why we made the decision to tell our kids the truth about Santa early on. I don't think it's diminished their enjoyment of Christmas one bit, although Hannah did make another little girl cry when she told her that there was no Santa. Can't win 'em all. But we have adopted the tradition of giving the kids chocolate in their shoes on Dec.6th, so I think that makes up for it!