In Greek mythology, the Naiads were a type of nymph (female spirit) who presided over fountains, wells, springs, streams, brooks and other bodies of freshwater.
The Naiads were daughters of Poseidon, but a genealogy for such ancient, ageless creatures is easily overstated.
The water nymph associated with particular springs was known all through Europe in places with no direct connection with Greece, surviving in the Celtic wells of northwest Europe that have been rededicated to Saints.
The Naiades were depicted in ancient art as beautiful, young women.
The Naiades were regarded as the divine nurses of the young, and the protectors of girls and maidens, overseeing their safe passage into adulthood.
They were often the object of archaic local cults, worshipped as essential to humans. Girls and boys coming-of-age ceremonies dedicated their childish locks to the local Naiad of the spring.